How To | Ads A/B Testing

How To | Ads A/B Testing

Trapica Content Team

Marketing Guides
5 min read
April 29, 2021

As a marketer or business leader, you are probably familiar with A/B testing. When advertising on Facebook and other platforms, it can be a great way to continually improve the effectiveness and outreach of your campaigns. Here’s everything you need to know about multivariate tests and A/B testing, starting with the following:

  • The basics
  • Why A/B testing is so valuable
  • Best practices

The Basics of A/B Testing

Sometimes referred to as split testing or bucket testing, A/B testing is the process of comparing and contrasting between two variables. With a control and a variation set up, traffic is split between the two. Essentially, A/B testing is an experiment which seeks to discover which variable is more effective at achieving a predetermined goal.

Take this common case-scenario: you want to run multivariate tests (tests with several variations) to see which creative is most effective for your ads. Segment people and send variations to different groups. Then, compare results and make a decision on how best to optimize your ad campaign.

Split testing has found a home in advertising, but the idea isn’t exactly a new one. In fact, split tests are often performed when scientists and researchers pit two new drugs up against each other. You’ll also find A/B testing in a number of other industries, like restaurant or hospitality. For example, a restaurant employee wants to test two new starters and provide them complimentary to visitors during the evening. One group gets the pasta dish, and the other group gets seafood. After the experiment, you consider the feedback in order to determine which will be more successful on the menu.

Thankfully, there’s no need to do everything manually because there are reliable platforms that run multivariate tests on our behalf. Let’s say we want to test five different ad creatives. Twenty-percent of traffic will go to each, and then the results will determine which had the best conversion rate. If three creatives are clearly ahead, you can drop the other two for the next stage of testing. The process of testing several variations against each other is known as A/B/n testing.

Why Is A/B Testing So Valuable?

There are a number of benefits to split testing:

1. Improved Conversion Rates

When testing creatives, you need to monitor your ads to see if they’re relevant. Many businesses struggle with creating relevant content that resonates with their audience. With A/B testing, you learn what works with your target market and eliminate the guesswork. When the creatives that don’t work are forgotten, and the creatives that perform stick around, your campaign should slowly begin to experience improved conversion rates.

2. Lower Bounce Rates

Did you know that split testing is also a technique used for website optimization? It can be incredibly frustrating to spend several hours building a website only to then find that people leave shortly after arriving. This is known as a ‘bounce rate’, and you can reduce yours by running A/B testing.

But what should we test? Absolutely anything and everything. Here’s a list to get you started:

  • Headlines
  • Fonts
  • Images
  • Positioning of items on each page
  • Navigational edits

As you test different website layouts, a percentage of visitors will be sent to each so that you can assess the bounce rate. You might have three variations running together; if A has a bounce rate of 72%, B of 59%, and C of 39%, you know that you’re doing something right with the third option. Just keep track of the differences between the three variations, and you can make the changes permanent after the testing is completed.

3. Easy Analysis

Have you ever been frustrated by the fact that so much of marketing doesn’t have an answer? There always seems to be different ways of achieving SEO results and different ways to resonate with an audience when creating content. For those who prefer a straight answer, A/B testing is for you. Assuming you give the test time to take effect and gather data, you’ll soon have a definitive answer as to which variation is best and you’ll have numbers to back it up (just as we mentioned in the rather over-exaggerated bounce rate test!).

Let’s not forget, marketing isn’t all about the online world. We know that the internet has taken over nearly everything, but some local businesses might still rely on the local market. In this case, split testing between two business cards might take your fancy. If you hand out 1,000 of each, both with a unique phone number, the one that generates the most phone calls is the better design and business card.

4. Learn Customers

Finally, what better way to learn more about your audience than to test what they do and don’t like, what they appreciate in a website, and what makes them respond to advertising? You’ll also learn about customers behavior, all while saving money that would’ve gone to extraneous changes to your website or ad campaigns.

Furthermore, we find that marketers tend to remain open to change when they’re able to test different variations. In the past, we would have to make a decision and then stick to it regardless of feedback (unless we wanted to spend huge sums on overhauling and taking a hit to our ego). Now, we can test different ideas and move forward with the best ones.

Photo by Jorge Percival on Unsplash

Best Practices for A/B Testing

Whether you’re testing copy, creatives, or anything else, we’re going to finish with some best practices so that you make the most of the marketing technique!

Adjust Your Budget Accordingly  

Too many times, we see marketers spend all of their budget on creating a website or ad campaign only to then have nothing left over for testing and adjustments. Because of this, it’s important to save about 20% for testing. If you like to test and aren’t sure about your creative, launch earlier and save more capital for testing.

With some of your budget already stashed away, you can start testing soon after the website or ad campaign launches.

Show Patience

A common pitfall that we see all the time is impatience. No matter your brand or your goals, you absolutely need to have patience when implementing split testing. Don’t run a test for a day, check the initial results, and think that this tells you everything you need to know. Instead, allow for the clicks and spending to come through slowly. Eventually, the results will plateau, and you’ll get an accurate picture of what’s happening.

This is especially important with ad campaigns because you’re making decisions to get closer to your target audience. Don’t allow a potentially successful ad to be deleted or removed from the test just because you can’t wait long enough to see accurate results.

Know When to Quit

At the same time, you also need to know when something isn’t working. Sometimes, it might be that you have two creatives which are both performing very well. Rather than allowing them to go on for weeks with no clear winner, introduce another variation to the test. Remember, the point of testing is to find a creative, content, and website that performs better than another idea or your existing choice. If nothing is standing out, move on.

Choose Your First Test Carefully

When trying to generate successful ads, one of the most common questions we receive is whether to focus on the copy or the creatives first. Most marketers and specialists in this area would agree that it’s better to test creatives first. Over time, it has been discovered that creatives tend to contribute to success more than copy.

As the recipient of an ad, consumers will see the creatives way before they read the copy. Strong creatives will catch the eye of the passerby, while strong copy is normally only secondary. Once you’ve nailed the creatives, then you can think about enhancing the copy for results.

Of course, you shouldn’t forget that there are different types of ads too. For many, this leads to testing between carousel, video, GIFs, static image, and slideshow ads.


You should now know the meaning of A/B testing and how multivariate tests work. Thanks to this reliable testing technique, we can compare different versions of ads and websites. In the end, we make a more informed decision and hopefully move closer to our target audience.

Marketing Guides
5 min read
April 29, 2021